The South Stand/Couch Report : Toronto v Seattle, MLS Cup Final edition

Old Seattle logo with new colours

Old Seattle logo with new colours

Full disclosure : The first part was written before the game, the match report was written while watching the PVR’d version.

Pre-Game : 

Fuck, another match report?!? It’s like the club is trolling me! And for all the hard work I’ve done for this club : making fun of it, mocking it, taking the piss out of players, praising others (looking at you Soolsma, Jackson, Gilberto, “The Chad”, the season of six keepers), poking fun at the league, mocking the league outright, stadium hijinx over ten years that most never endure in their shelf life.

And in December you bastards have the audacity to put me to work.  One.  More.  Time.

You guys, I’m on a Go Train and the butterflies are growing, surely consuming me whole by kick-off.  Some people on here are pre-gaming. I wonder if they’re losing it a little too.

Let’s bullet point this shall we

  • TFC is the feel good film of the summer
  • Seattle turned their fortunes around after sacking a coach

I truly believe that they will win this. As of 3:26 as we pick up passengers in Oakville, Toronto is the more superior team.

Now let’s save this document and meet up with the others at The Foggy Dew, have a pint and a nervous laugh, and see if Osorio can get that hat trick.

[/optimism]

Watching the PVR’d replay :

2’ – Altidore gets a great chance and fires it past Frei and the far post.

6’ – How Valdez wasn’t booked for that careless challenge on Moor, I’ll never understand.

15’ – great bit of ball movement, Osorio pokes it to Giovinco, gets it to Altidore with back to goal pokes it to Osorio who turns and fires but stopped by Frei.

22’ – Valdez gets hurt losing an aerial battle with Hagglund.

25’ – Vic Rauter with sideline comforts… Totally worth PVRing this…

26’ – Giovinco smashes a volley into the face of Torres. #sacrifice

30’ – Altidore gets up for a Morrow cross to head it down but not enough juice on it to beat Frei.

38’ – Giovinco gets hauled down outside the box. Ensuing free kick goes off the face of Lodiero.

44’ – Seattle are pressing in the penalty area, but it pops out and finds Bradley who calmly pushes the ball past a lunging Morris and out of danger.

Half Time Mood : optimistic with a dollop of frustration.

49’ – Altidore gets tied up at the top of the box with the ball, finds Osorio who lays it off for Giovinco, and he fires it into the side netting.

66’ – Bradley swings the ball out to Giovinco on the wing and he puts a low cross in front of goal, looking for Altidore but was well marked out.

68’ – Bradley floats a big ball into the box just out of reach of Hagglund’s swinging head.

71’ – Jones swings his arms in the corner catches Beitashour and gets booked for his carelessness.

77’ – SUB – Johnson comes in for Osorio

83’ – Moor cleans up a mistouch from Zavaleta by dealing with Morris forcing his touch to roll out for a goal kick.

84’ – SUB – Cooper comes off for Cheyrou. Soooooo we’re playing for penalties? Hope I’m wrong (spoiler alert : I wasn’t).

87’ – Cheyrou gets the ball on a counterattack, and threads a weak ball that doesn’t quite make its destination. Rough touch there.

89’ – Cheyrou loops a great ball over the top, but Giovinco’s first touch lets him down.

3 mins of extra time

90+2 – corner from Bradley finds Hagglund and heads it low and Frei gets to it but  it without a collision with Altidore.

90+3 – YELLOW – Bradley for a mid-air clattering into Rodan.

Full Time : Toronto 0, Seattle 0

91’ – Cheyrou slots into the box and firing for the post, but deflects past it.

94’ – Cheyrou took a ball from Giovinco on the counter, has a go that nutmegs his marker, but easily saved by Frei.

95’ – Ricketts gets the call to prepare to come into the game but…

103’ – SUB – Giovinco comes off for Ricketts. 8 minutes in injury time of waiting… Got’em right where you want’em, right?!

104’ – Altidore long range shot finds Frei and Ricketts is ready to pounce but in control of the keeper.

107’ – Johnson heads a ball back into the box, Morrow pops it back and finds Ricketts and fires it just past the post but Frei was rooted in place.

108’ – Ricketts down the wing pops a ball into the middle finding a leaping Altidore whose attempt is floating towards to top corner and Frei reaches behind him to palm it away to safety.  That’s bananas. #saveOfTheYear

112’ – ball crossed into the box and Beitashour has a nightmare of a clearance by whiff in on it, it falls to Mears at the far post but Irwin is on top of it and bails him out.

“Ricketts has been on the field how long and he’s had 3 or 4 shots on net already?”

~ the wife

1 min of extra time

Full Time AET : Toronto 0, Seattle 0

Oh goodie, penalty time!

TOR : Altidore SCORES 1-0
SEA : Evans SCORES 1-1
TOR : Bradley SAVED 1-1
SEA : Ivanshutz SCORES 1-2
TOR : Cheyrou SCORES 2-2
SEA : Fernandez SAVED 2-2
TOR : Johnson SCORES 3-2
SEA : Jones SCORES 3-3
TOR : Moor SCORES 4-3
SEA : Lodiero SCORES 4-4
TOR : Morrow  OMFG HITS THE CROSSBAR 4-4

shit.

SEA : Torres SCORES 4-5

Well fuck.

Full Time AET & Penalties : Toronto 0, Seattle 0, (Seattle wins 5-4 on penalties)

Good to see MLS still honour the global tradition of handing the cup to the captain the owner of the winning team.
Reason #3 why MLS will never convert all soccer fans in North America : the money supercedes the game

Man of the Match : Frei was more outstanding than any TFC outfielder, but Moor was excellent.

Goat of the Game : Naw. Pass.

Ref Rating : 3 out of 5. Ref of the year?  A bit much.  Was a bit more in favour of the visitors.

I Am Not The Gaffer But : I couldn’t figure out how Vanney felt that what the team was doing was working, was doing exactly as planned without much difficulty for the Seattle back line. Would’ve  brought Ricketts on around the 60th minute, Johnson shortly thereafter.  Cheyrou maybe in injury time.

In Case You PVR’d It : it’s a frustrating chess match but it is a final.

Kit Spotting : @TFCcobra was wearing a stunning bearskin Soviet cap.

Overheard Around the Ground :

“Beitashour is terrible”
No he’s not.  He’s a winger.  Not a defender.  He’s supposed to be everywhere, and not defending. 

“why would you take Giovinco out? Your best penalty taker and best player comes off too early.”
He was getting a hammering.  I counted 5 fouls and at least 5 moments of contact that weren’t called.  That was part of the strategy.  Also, it was fucking cold and someone is going to be more tired than the others.  Lastly, if you want to win and shit isn’t working, you change.  Giovinco knows that.

“we want Ricketts! *clap* *clap* *clap-clap-clap*”
This is something I could get behind.  60th minute, no questions.

Autopsy :

Seattle offence was poor, and Toronto’s defence, far from perfect, held well against most attacks.  Meanwhile, Toronto’s offence was good, but Seattle, more often than not, had someone covering each other.

Here’s my biggest thing with the lack of Ricketts participation in more of the game :

  • Although most of the action was taking place in Seattle’s half, it was largely a stalemate
  • For long periods of time, there was a visible gap between where Giovinco/Altidore play and where Bradley (or whoever’s supposed to be playing attacking midfield) roams
  • Seattle was stingy defensively, but far from perfect.  Their faults were exposed regularly, but got the job done
  • Many of the lost offensive efforts took place in that space in between the centre circle and the penalty area, long balls intercepted or poorly executed or picked up by their marker
  • Staying the course resulted in the same rate of attack for longer.

And here’s what’s happened :

  • Ricketts would be the fastest guy on the pitch and after 60 minutes of this climate, Seattle would not be able to sustain it
  • Ricketts up top beside Altidore, Giovinco drops back to attacking midfield, fills in the gap that staggered much of the attacking flow
  • The defense was perfectly capable all game and this switch wouldn’t alter that formation

And the biggest point to be made…

  • IT WORKS MORE TIMES THAN IT HAS NOT AND HE’S BEEN FIRE SINCE THE PLAYOFFS BEGAN.

Footie, more than other sports, feels like it’s more susceptible to the “woulda, coulda, shoulda” bullshit that most of us armchair gaffers do, but I did say out loud at the time and the evidence supports my theory is littered throughout Ricketts’ time in Toronto.  I’m sure there was a deeper strategy at work.  A means to a particular end.  It’s the amount of time before the switch was made that really staggers me.

Hagglund was solid in his half of the pitch, and a bit panicked in the other half… Bradley was a little trying a bit to be everything and everywhere in this match, and to be fair it worked a lot of the time… Props to the Toronto supporter who congratulated all the Seattle fans.  Top class stuff… I’m stealing from @RedWineRoz but for all the nightmares Toronto FC gave Stefan Frei during his time here, there’s a bit of schadenfreude to see him rob Toronto of the cup and win MVP, which he deserved… OMG my toes were soooo cold, you guys…

Player Ratings : Irwin 6.5, Zavaleta 6.5, Moor 7, Hagglund 6, Morrow 6.5, Beitashour 6, Bradley 7, Cooper 6 [Cheyrou 6.5], Osorio 6.5 [Johnson 6.5], Giovinco 6 [Ricketts 6.5], Altidore 6.5

I’m sure we’ll have a long-ass bitchfest podcast about it tomorrow… *sigh*

Sincerely, thanks for the completely crazy ride, you mighty Robins of 2016.

2017 is officially on notice!*

* expansion draft pending

Author: Mark Hinkley

Mark is a full-time graphic designer, full-time smart ass and full-time logo, stadium and kit nerd. When he isn't writing ridiculous match reports or redesigning logos for his own amusement, he's salivating over the day that promotion and relegation occurs in MLS. You can follow him @kitnerdmark on the twitterz.

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3 Comments

  1. I agree, I really don’t understand why Cheyrou came in before Ricketts. I was also thinking, why not drop Giovinco back to attacking mid so he can try to set things up for Altidore and Ricketts? He clearly wasn’t going to get past the Seattle defenders and by that point in the game his speed was moot. Ricketts’ speed would have definitely helped.

    Tough game to critique though. TFC was very solid in defense, Bradley was excellent, and the guys did better in the penalty shoot-out than I expected them too. So basically we lose on a coin toss and Seattle gets to celebrate.

    Well done to TFC though – it was an excellent season with some very nice to watch soccer. I managed to get to every home playoff game and the atmosphere surpassed pretty much any TFC game I’ve been to previously. It will be very hard to ever top leg 2 of the Montreal series though. Hopefully the squad can stay pretty much intact for next season and build on their success. Finally, finally, finally we have a terrific team here will pretty much all the pieces you could want and that can go toe-to-toe with anyone in this league. Can’t wait for next season, and I’m very excited to see how they do in the Concacaf Champions League too!

    Cheers to everyone at VMP for another great season of podcasting and blogging and still managing to maintain the healthy level of snark that I require as a TFC supporter. Any chance you will have a season player rating this year? It will be interesting to see given how many guys did well for once.

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  2. I agree, I really don’t understand why Cheyrou came in before Ricketts. I was also thinking, why not drop Giovinco back to attacking mid so he can try to set things up for Altidore and Ricketts? He clearly wasn’t going to get past the Seattle defenders and by that point in the game his speed was moot. Ricketts’ speed would have definitely helped.

    Tough game to critique though. TFC was very solid in defense, Bradley was excellent, and the guys did better in the penalty shoot-out than I expected them too. So basically we lose on a coin toss and Seattle gets to celebrate.

    Well done to TFC though – it was an excellent season with some very nice to watch soccer. I managed to get to every home playoff game and the atmosphere surpassed pretty much any TFC game I’ve been to previously. It will be very hard to ever top leg 2 of the Montreal series though. Hopefully the squad can stay pretty much intact for next season and build on their success. Finally, finally, finally we have a terrific team here with pretty much all the pieces you could want and that can go toe-to-toe with anyone in this league. Can’t wait for next season, and I’m very excited to see how they do in the Concacaf Champions League too!

    Thanks to everyone at VMP for another great season of podcasting and blogging and still managing to maintain the healthy level of snark that I require as a TFC supporter. Any chance you will have a season player rating this year? It will be interesting to see given how many guys did well for once.

    Cheers!

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  3. Sorry about the double post! I hit the post reply button too early without signing it.

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